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THE EUROPEAN YOUTH WEEK: YOUTH AS THE FUTURE OF THE CONTINENT

pdf mise en ligne :25 11 2008 ( NEA say… n° 57 )

IMMIGRATION > Droit de séjour

From 2 to 9 November the European Union and the Member States celebrated the fourth European Youth Week with a lot of initiatives throughout the continent. In particular Brussels has been the site of the most important events of the program. This year the Youth Week was strictly connected with the issue of the intercultural dialogue coherently with the EU 2008 theme. Furthermore this year the EU celebrates twenty years of European programs for youth.

              Be the future, be Europe!

 

It's with this slogan that the 2008 European Youth Week presents itself. This is just to stress that the youth should be the target of many EU policies, for the simple cause that the present young people are the basis of our future. In a continent in which the average age of population is getting older and older, young people are becoming crucial for our development. Youth becomes then our future and our hope. Investing in it is a duty for the European Union and its Member States, but it shouldn't be seen as a burden, but rather as a way or better a possibility to improve the value of our people. Investing in "human capital" means above all investing on those ones who will be in the next future the cornerstone of our society and after all the governing class of our States and our European Union (or whatever name it could have in the future).

 

 

              Youth policies in the EU

The twentieth anniversary of the first european initiatives for youth constituted an occasion to assess what it has already been achieved in this field. We certainly cannot deny that all the european initiatives have engendered many changes so far. It is enough to think to the well-known european educational programs such as Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, Leonardo da Vinci and the various stages which have enormously enhanced young people possibilities to move abroad for study or apprenticeship reasons. All that was unquestionably non-existent twenty years ago.  The fact is that we often look to the results of a process we don't know. Everything is taken for granted. The Erasmus program is a nice initiative, many european students enjoyed that program, but how much do they know about the project which stands behind the program? Where does the program come out from? Who is responsible for these programs? The main actor of  the production of initiatives for youth is the Directorate General for Education and Culture and in particular all those unities that deal with youth issues (see, by the way, the European Youth Portal [FR] and also the European Commission website on youth policies [English version only]).

 

Listening to the voice of the young people: the public consultation

Taking into account the source of youth european policies, it is right and proper to focus on the Youth Week initiative which absorbs and celebrates in a so short time all the achievements of one year of work in that field. First of all we must say that a public consultation  is underway: young people from all over Europe are invited to inform EU institutions about their problems and to make proposals in order to influence decision makers in shaping the new EU youth agenda for the future. The deadline for forwarding the proposals is November 25.

 

More than 500 activities and events

During the week a lot of initiatives spread over the continent in all the Member States. European young people were engaged in programs and events coordinated at national level, but the core of the week took place in Brussels.

On 5 November seven projects received a prize in a ceremony in the presence of the Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth Ján Figel'. The projects were funded by the Youth in Action Programme. In Brussels it was also held a European Parliament session in which there were gathered young people and representatives of the EU institutions. The aim of this session was to discuss the future direction of European Union action for young people in the next years. The main request from young people representation was the progressive removal of legal and bureaucratic obstacles for young people's full participation in society.

 

Youth as EU main target

The youth issue should then become (as asked by the young people themselves) if not the main target of EU policy, at least one of the most important. Young people representatives clearly stressed that, instead of seeing youth as a cheap labour force, the european institutions should consider youth as a resource for creativity and innovation.

 

 

 

European Parliament web page on the meeting between MEPs and young people

 

 

 

       

Fabio Putortì

Università degli Studi di Firenze (Italy)